Kelly Rowland's inspiration for singing dates back to the when she was just 4 years old and she heard Whitney Houston's 1985 self-titled debut album. Alongside childhood friend Beyoncé, the Atlanta native became a formidable vocal force herself as a member of the GRAMMY-winning female trio Destiny's Child, and now as a successful solo artist. In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, the four-time GRAMMY winner discussed her career highlights, songwriting, advice for aspiring artists, her latest album Here I Am, and future plans.
Just two years after the release of their 1998 self-titled debut album, Destiny's Child won their first GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for the smash hit "Say My Name."
"I remember pinching myself the first time," said Rowland regarding her first GRAMMY win. "We were actually in a hotel room when we found out we won our first GRAMMY. I remember [Beyoncé] saying, 'We are GRAMMY recording artists, Destiny's Child!' Wow, there are no words."
The trio won Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal again in 2001 for the title track to their third album, Survivor. Rowland released her debut solo album, Simply Deep, in 2002. The album's first single, "Dilemma," featuring Nelly, earned Rowland her first GRAMMY as a solo artist for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Rowland's sophomore effort, 2007's Ms. Kelly, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Released in 2011, Here I Am reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hit "Motivation," featuring Lil Wayne. The album also features collaborations with GRAMMY winners David Guetta and RedOne.
"I'm in love with this album, from start to finish," said Rowland regarding Here I Am. "It was my goal to make sure every song felt good. … I wanted to even take people back just a little bit to my Destiny's Child roots on some songs."
Following the release of 2004's Destiny Fulfilled and the 2005 compilation #1's, Destiny's Child has been inactive. Formed in 1990, the trio's road to superstardom was no overnight success. In today's society marked by instant gratification and constant social media updates, Rowland stresses the virtues of patience and perseverance.
"The advice I wish someone had given me was, 'It takes time,'" said Rowland. "Nowadays, up-and-coming artists have the advantage of the Internet. But … it still takes time. … When you want something bad enough, you work your butt off for it."
Rowland was recently inspired by a visit to Motown's Historical Museum in Detroit, where she stepped foot in the studio where legendary artists such as the Supremes, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, among others, recorded their classic Motown hits.
"I remember one of the main things that Berry Gordy said was to tell stories in music. I can't wait to get in the studio for [my next album] . … I want to tell stories and make people feel good. That's when music is at its finest."